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|Minister of State Control|
19 March 1946 – 27 October 1950
|Preceded by||Vasily Popov|
|Succeeded by||Vsevolod Merkulov|
6 September 1940 – 21 June 1941
|Preceded by||Rosalia Zemlyachka|
|Succeeded by||Vasily Popov|
|Deputy Chairman of the Council of People's Commissars|
6 September 1940 – 15 May 1944
|Full member of the 17th, 18th Orgburo|
14 January 1938 – 16 October 1952
Lev Zakharovich Mekhlis|
13 January 1889
Odessa Russian Empire
13 February 1953 (aged 64)|
|Resting place||Kremlin Wall Necropolis|
The Communist Party of the Soviet Union (1918–53)|
Poale Zion (1907–11)
|Alma mater||Institute of Red Professors|
|Awards||Order of Military Valour grade 4|
|Years of service||1911–20, 1941–45|
Lev Zakharovich Mekhlis (January 13, 1889 – February 13, 1953) was a Soviet politician and high commander of the Red Army from 1937 to 1940. He was one of the main Stavka representatives during World War II who was responsible for five to seven Soviet fronts.
In 1911, he joined the Russian Army, where he served in the second grenadier artillery brigade. In 1912, he obtained the rank of bombardier. He served in the artillery in the First World War.
In 1918 he joined the Communist Party and until 1920 he did political work in the Red Army (commissioner of brigade, then 46th division, group of forces). In 1921–1922, he was the manager of administrative inspection in the People's commissariat of worker-peasant inspection (Peoples Commissar (Narkom) Joseph Stalin). In 1922–1926, he was the assistant to the secretary and the manager of the bureau of the secretariat of the Central Committee, in effect Stalin's personal secretary.
In 1926–1930 he took courses at the Communist Academy and in the Institute of Red Professors. From 1930 he was the head of the press corps Central Committee, and simultaneously a member of the editorial board, and then the editor in chief of the newspaper Pravda.
In 1937–1940, he was the Commissar of Defense and the chief of the main political administration of the Red Army. From 1939 he was the member of Central Committee the CPSU (he had been a candidate since 1934), in 1938–1952 he was a member of the Orgburo of the Central Committee, in 1940–1941 People's Commissar of State Control (Goskontrolya).
In June 1941 he was newly assigned by the chief of main political administration and the deputy of the Peoples Commissar of Defense. Mekhlis was named army commissar of the 1st rank, which corresponded to the title of General of the red Army. In 1942 he was the representative of the Stavka (headquarters) of supreme commander-in-chief at the Crimean Front, where he constantly disputed with General Dmitry Timofeyevich Kozlov. The leaders of the staff of the Front did not know whose orders to carry out – the commander's or Mekhlis’s.
The commander of the North-Caucasian Front, Marshal Semyon Budyonny, also could not control Mekhlis, who had no desire to be subordinated, only recognising orders which came directly from the Stavka. Mekhlis, during a stay at the post of the representative of Stavka, was occupied by the fact that he wrote sufficiently critical reports to senior officers.
After one such report Major General Tolbukhin was taken off the post of chief of staff of the front, which had carelessness in contrast the instruction of Stalin to express opinion about the need for the front considering the need for being defended. So he attempted through the Stavka to replace the front commander, Kozlov, with Konstantin Rokossovsky or Klykov. At the same time in reports to Stalin he attempted to distance himself from the failures which the Crimean Front suffered, and to lay the entire responsibility on the front commander.
In regard to this, Stalin sent a telegram to Mekhlis, in which he subjected to his rigid criticism for similar behavior:
Crimean front, t. Mekhlis:
Your code message #254 (I) received. Your position of a detached observer who is not accountable for the events at the Crimean Front is puzzling. Your position may sound convenient, but it positively stinks. At the Crimean Front, you are not an outside observer, but the responsible representative of Stavka, who is accountable for every success and failure that takes place at the Front, and who is required to correct, right there and then, any mistake made by the commanding officers.
You, along with the commanding officers, will answer for failing to reinforce the left flank of the Front. If, as you say, "everything seemed to indicate that the opponent would begin an advance first thing in the morning", and you still hadn't done everything needed to repel their attack instead limiting your involvement merely to passive criticism, then you are squarely to blame. It seems that you still have not figured out that we sent you to the Crimean Front not as a government auditor but as a responsible representative of Stavka.
You demand that Kozlov be replaced, that even Hindenburg would be an improvement. Yet you know full well that Soviet reserves do not have anyone named Hindenburg. The situation in Crimea is not difficult to grasp, and you should be able to take care of it on your own. Had you committed your front line aviation and used it against the opponent's tanks and infantry, the opponent would not have been able to break through our defenses and their tanks would not have rolled through it. You do not need to be a 'Hindenburg' to grasp such a simple thing after two months at the Crimean Front. Stalin.
After the crushing defeat in May 1942 on the Crimean Front (of 250,000 soldiers and officers on the Crimean Front in 12 days of fighting, 162,282 people, 65% were irrecoverable losses) he was removed from the post of the deputy people's commissar of defense and the chief of the main political administration of the Red Army. He was demoted in rank two levels down to a corps commissar.
In 1942–1946, he was a member of the military council of a number of armies and fronts, from December 6, 1942, he was a lieutenant general, from July 29, 1944 he was a colonel general. In 1946–1950, he was the minister of government control of the USSR.
Lev Mekhlis was awarded four Orders of Lenin, five other orders and numerous medals.
- Four Orders of Lenin
- Order of the Red Banner (twice)
- Order of Suvorov
- Order of Kutuzov
- Medal "20 years of Red Army"
- Medal "Victory over Germany 1941-1945"
- Other medals
- The Red Army Today / Speeches Delivered [by K Voroshilov, L Mekhlis, S Budyonny, and G Stern] at the Eighteenth Congress of the CPSU(B), March 10–21, 1939, by Kliment Voroshilov, Lev Mekhlis, Semyon Budyonny, Grigori Stern, pub Foreign Languages Publishing House, Moscow, 1939
- The U.S.S.R. and the Capitalist Countries, edited by Lev Mekhlis, Y Varga, and Vyacheslav Karpinsky, pub Moscow, 1938, reprinted University Press of the Pacific, 2005, ISBN 978-1410224194
- Rubtsov, Yuri V [Рубцов Ю В], Alter ego to Stalin [Alter ego Сталина], pub Zvonnitsa-MG, Moscow, 1999, ISBN 978-5880930562
- Rubtsov, Yuri V [Рубцов Ю В], Mekhlis, Shadow Leader [Мехлис: Тень вождя], pub Veche, Moscow, 2011. Part of the series: Military Secrets of the 20th Century [Военные тайны XX века], ISBN 978-5-9533-5781-4
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